Planning

If you require assistance with a planning case, our first priority is to protect the Cornish countryside and it is likely we will be able to provide help or advice. We continue to challenge many planning applications that are damaging to the countryside and often attempt to break the rules. However, your support as a donor, member or as a volunteer will help us to do this effectively. If you are able to help us with a donation, please use this link. https://www.cprecornwall.org/donation/

An immediate challenge for us is the proposed legislation for a new planning system.  We will be making a significant input via our MPs and direct to the Government.  This will directly affect protection of the the Cornish countryside.  Below is the Cornwall CPRE opening position at 20th September 2020.  This will adapt as the consultation period progresses.

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE – THE GOVERNMENT WHITE PAPER

For a document of this complexity it would be wrong to condemn it outright.  Such an approach might be shallow and even suggest self-interest.  It would also wrongly imply support of the present system which since 1947, has delivered large numbers of frequently poor quality, unkindly designed houses, often in the wrong locations and at huge cost to the natural environment.

In fact, Government justification for the new planning proposals is based on heavy and justified criticisms of the present system…

  • It is too complex
  • Planning decisions are discretionary
  • It takes on average 7 years to adopt a local plan
  • Assessment of housing need, viability and environmental impact are opaque
  • It has lost public trust
  • It is based on outdated technology
  • The reality of developer contributions to infrastructure are unsound
  • There is not enough focus on design
  • There is little incentive to build high quality homes
  • It does not lead to enough homes being built where the need is highest

Having made the point that the present system is failing just about everybody, to have a wholesale clear out of entrenched attitudes and the evident vested interests of Councils and developers alike, is well overdue.

However, although these new proposals bring opportunities both for the environment and improved life quality for us all, there are serious risks.  What is important now is to steer the consultation process with powerful and persistent arguments regarding those concerns and opportunities.

It is proposed to divide the County (as with all of England) into three areas, Protected, Renewal and Growth.

It is critical that in the Protected category, this allocation is as extensive as possible.  We need Protected land to include Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), Areas of Great Landscape Value (AGLVs), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Conservation Areas, Heritage sites and significant areas of unspoilt fields, woodland and hilltops.   There is a suggestion that protected land would have no development rights but we understand the Council would have the right to overrule this.  This means that these areas would not actually be protected and we are back to the discretionary system which the Government itself has condemned.  There is work to be done here.

Consultation for the allocation and rules for Protected areas will be done at community level we are told.  This should not just be a listening process, nor should it be controlled by Cornwall Council.  We need an input with much increased authority from Parish Councils, Town Councils, the CPRE, environmental groups, public transport authorities, Chambers of Commerce and so on.  THAT would represent community involvement. Not the main Council, whose track record would suggest little interest in local opinion and vested interests in other directions.

The new Renewal areas of abandoned brownfield sites are where developers should look first and where the Government is proposing financial incentives to put them to good use.

The Growth area is of particular concern to us, especially in Cornwall, where inward migration, building for investment and the tourism industry are prevalent.  It is being proposed that Growth areas will have a presumption of development but within a rules system. One plan fits all will not be appropriate for Cornwall. This is where the CPRE and others will need to be most active in the consultation process.  Firstly, what are the housing targets going to be?  Secondly, what are the development rules and what happens if a developer breaks the rules?  This is important work and Cornwall CPRE intends to be fully involved in the process before it becomes law.

Planning for the Future should be given a cautious welcome.  Very cautious but a welcome nonetheless.  This does not have to be a fait accompli.  You can help the countryside too, either by supporting us or by writing to your MP…